Join us on our new journey to Monaco and Europe! We are so excited, and want to share with you all of our exciting adventures...and maybe some, not so exciting! Thanks for joining us...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On to Florence, On Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, Bill & Maureen headed up to the Saint Charles Cathedral in Monaco, a lovely, neighborhood Catholic church, and attended the mass, ALL IN FRENCH....they loved it. The women were out in their finest, hats and all! The French women do love to dress, and all have an Easter Bonnet tucked away just for this occasion.

By 10 AM Art, myself and the Byrne's were on our way to Florence...driving East into Italy, along the coast, past Genoa and then South towards Florence. The views are spectacular, with the sea to the West and the Alpes Maritime to the East...some of the mountains were still covered in snow. Just a glorious drive...

Unfortunately, with ever kilometer we travelled, the day grew darker and more stormy. We carried on with our plans, stopping only once for some petrol at an Auto mart on the highway...if you've never been in one of these Auto stop! It's can get a cup of java, but it's an expresso or a cappuccino, and it's in a proper cup, not to GO!!! as in America! You stand and take a leisurely break from driving. Others have a beer or wine...and we just prayed that none of THEM were driving...large families were gathering for their lunch breaks here, some were stocking up on chocolates and biscuits for the drive...the shop was packed, and had a festive atmosphere!
We got to Florence around 2ish, and quickly set out to find our hotel, the Grand Cavour...thank goodness we had Flo, our GPS...she is the best, leading us down these dark streets right to the door of the Inn....After unpacking, and valeting the car, we set out for a bite to eat, which isn't easy since the lunch time is from 12:30 to 3 in Florence, and we were almost into the 3:30 hour. But, we did find a cute pub that offered us a small menu, a few beers and a tall bottle of San Pelligrino...a staple in Italy, gassed water!

After our refreshments, we took our umbrellas, raincoats, and not enough warm clothing, and set out to see the sights in the POURING RAIN!!! It was nasty! But, the sights overtook the rain. We headed to the Academy Galleria, where my sister, Pat, insisted I see...and yes, she knew what she was talking about. After a near hour line, we walked in the door to see Michaelangelo's "DAVID" all his glory! How magnificent a sculpture it is, and perfect, just perfect. The museum was loaded with American College kids on Spring Break...families travelling, most speaking English as well...and I had to actually listen to the "workers" there to make sure I really was in Italy, and not back home in the States. This was the most English I have heard over here in the 10 months we've been here!

After touring this wonderful Academy of the Arts, we headed next for the Duoma...and Cathedral, none of which was open any longer today. We did get to see these sites from the outside, and after a few hours in the rain, we headed back to our hotel to WARM UP before heading out again for dinner.

Now, dining in Florence is a GRAND experience in itself...IF you can find the restaurant in the dark streets...with the rain, it made it almost impossible. But, we perservered and found it, to our delight! This wonderfully small, and quaint restaurant had white plaster walls, with beamed ceilings of dark wood, and simple wooden tables and chairs. The setting was quaint and very old it should when you are in Florence....I will get the name and let you all know as soon as I do. Our meal and wine selections were supurb, with lamb, fresh fish, and great vegetables...followed up by wonderful desserts.

Again, we walked our way home, through the maze of cobblestone streets and dimly lit roads...but the Grand Cavour awaited us.

The following morning, we headed out for some more sight seeing, in the cold damp weather of Florence. The rain was holding up enough to make it more presentable, but the air was crisp and damp. We went to the museum first...Uffizi Gallery, which is a very large building that was designed in the 1500's, and houses art from the 1300 - 1800's, with the most famous being from the Italian Renaissance, and several Dutch, German and Flemish and even French Artists. It was amazing, spacious, and went on and on with bigger and better pieces. Magnificent, but mostly unknown to the four of us.

No cameras were allowed to be used inside the Academia Gallery, but, outside of the Uffizi, there were a few replicas of the plasters and statues that were inside the Academia, and I snapped a picture of the replica of David and a few others in the same shot...not as grande as the original David, but still so wonderful...And, the flowers on the same square were just beautiful in it's Easter Finery!

From here, we decided to get online, which was wrapped all the way around the building, to The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church (Duomo). This is a spectacular cathedral, which has become a tourist's mecca, due to the climb to the top of the dome to see all of Florence and the hills into Tuscany from the top. We first went into the Cathedral, and oh my, what a beautifully adorned place it was. The HIGHEST of ceilings, with gorgeous paintings on them, gorgeous statues, marble works on the pillars and wood trim that was darkened with age. We did go down to the catacombs below, and saw the original floor of the first cathedral on this site, pre 1300's, and was redesigned twice, with the dome being finally added in the mid 1400's. Just an amazingly large structure, and to think, no cranes, no newage technology to get it up there....makes it a wonder of this city. We later began our climb up to the top of the dome, to see the view, and Art had to sneak back down, a bit of a small and confined staircase...but Bill, Maureen and myself continued our ascent. It was a long and trying climb, but we made it. The views were spectacular, and we are ever so glad we did it, until we tried to decend. The line to go down was out of control, with no order, and we were UP THERE for a good hour before we were able to start down. Art thought we were lost forever up there! I will say, the dome close up, painted with all of heavens finest, was spectacular....glad we went.

One day, knowing it's only a little more than four hours to drive to, we will revisit this city...we had to leave our friends mid day on Monday to return to we were heading back to NYC for the wedding of Art's niece, Mariclare and her soon to be husband, Mo Hall...

Good bye for now, Florence, and Maureen and Bill, but we WILL SEE YOU ALL AGAIN!!!! Soon! In better weather, we do hope!

No comments: